The Netherlands got an early taste of the tournament atmosphere yesterday when they were cheered on by around 25,000 fans at an open training session at the Municipal Stadium Wisla in Krakow.
Most of the vibrant crowd appeared to be made up of local supporters determined not to miss the chance to see Bert van Marwijk's side close up – one of the privileges of living in a city that's playing host to a trio of UEFA EURO 2012 contenders along with Italy and England.
"I think it's very special to be able to see the Netherlands for real for the first time in my life," Pawel Zbik, a local enthusiast dressed in an Oranje shirt, told me. "I have always been a fan of Dutch football and I think the Netherlands are the strongest team in the tournament and play the best football. So it's very nice that they've allowed people from Krakow into the stadium today to see the team at close quarters."
The weather gods also smiled on the event, after a long day of incessant rain on Tuesday. Mild sunshine warmed the stadium and 'Ooohs' and 'Aaahs' regularly emanated from the stands as the players enjoyed a session of finishing practice, with the likes of Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar burying some nice goals.
At one point, a Mexican wave even washed over the stands, leaving the Netherlands in little doubt how much UEFA EURO 2012 has captured the imagination of the local population. "We don't train that often in front of so many people, so that's nice," said Van Marwijk. "The advantage is that it makes you realise the tournament is really close to beginning. It was sometimes difficult to coach my players properly because of the noise from the fans, but the crowd was fantastic today."
I'd say that he can probably start getting used to that kind of following, with most of the 25,000 spectators who created a party atmosphere in Krakow surely set to back the Netherlands throughout the tournament.
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